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Jacksonville University legend celebrates 99th birthday

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local legend celebrated her 99th birthday party at Jacksonville University on Sunday. 

Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne holds the title of many firsts.

She was the first female dean for JU’s College of Fine Arts. She was then named president of JU, becoming the first female college president in the state of Florida.

JU alumni, staff and friends put together a tribute for Kinne.  

The Jacksonville Children’s choir was also there to sing happy birthday.

Episcopal Academy’s Director of Fine Arts, Sally Maguire Deming, helped coordinate the party and was also a student at JU when Kinne was a dean. She says Kinne made an impact on everyone she meets.

“She stimulates motivates inspires us to be who we are created to be,” said Deming.

Kinne became the nation’s oldest commencement speaker during JU’s graduation in December at 98-years-old, and Deming says she is happy she could be a part of her 99th birthday party.

“The feeling is an honor to celebrate this incredible person that has influenced not just Jacksonville University, not just Jacksonville, not just Florida but the entire country.” said Deming.

After the show, the celebration continued with cake and champagne. Kinne said the event was a surprise.

“Each one did a great job and that’s what’s exciting,” said Kinne.

She said she is optimistic about the next year to come and may plan a party for everyone else on her 100th birthday.